LEGO: Lord of the Rings Review

Reviewed On
MacBook Pro 15", 2.4GHz Intel Core i7, 8GB RAM, Intel HD 3000 / AMD Radoen HD 6770M 1024 MB.

One does not simply walk into Mordor

So here we are again, in the rather familiar territory of another new LEGO game release for the Mac, courtesy of Feral Interactive.  But fret not gamers; for this is not just any game, this is one LEGO game to rule them all…

That’s right, another classic story has been deconstructed and lovingly reassembled in those tiny colourful bricks you used to stand on as a child.  While I can hear some of you groaning at the thought of spending hours collecting studs again I have to tell you, it’s probably the best LEGO game to date.  That said don’t expect anything too out of the ordinary here, the old formula of platforming and collecting is still very much the heart of this game, but there is a surprise or two in store.  Mainly, the characters talk.  Being a fan of all the previous LEGO games in which the characters were muter than a Charlie Chaplin movie played without any speakers, this feels like total blasphemy at first, but you can see why they’ve done it.  Not even the developers at travellers tales could tell a story as complex as LOTR without words, and it does make the game feel more like its movie counterpart than any of the previous games could ever have hoped to.  Another new addition are checkpoints in each level that means at last you can take a break from the infamously long levels of LEGO games, without having to do it all again the next time you play.

Graphically, the game looks more impressive than ever.  Of course in the end it is held back slightly by the fact that everything is made from LEGO.  Fine details are always going to be pointy and blocky and in incredibly bright primary colours, but on a large scale the developers have really gone all out.  With depth of field, motion blur and a large free-roaming open world, a drunk person could be forgiven for thinking they were just playing a lower resolution version of Skyrim.  The open world is one of the games defining features, packed with side quests and NPCs, and in my opinion not only makes it the best LEGO game yet, but also one of the most authentic Lord of the Rings games ever made.  The world lets you really experience the grand journey of the movie and is pretty huge, taking a good 20 minutes to leave the Shire, take the Hobbits to Isengard and then simply walk into Mordor (I feel like I’ll be punished for those puns at some point…).  What is a little disappointing is that places the open world are smaller than their counterparts in the levels.  Helm’s Deep is a massive imposing fortress in the level “Helm’s Deep”, but travel there in free roam and even your small LEGO characters are too big to fit inside.

LEGO games are always lighthearted and easygoing, so expect violence to be handled in a fairly tongue-in-cheek and sometimes just plain foolish manner.  Arrows will bounce off enemies knocking them out and occasionally someone will lose their legs, but the best scene by far has to be Boromir’s death.  Now being the epitome of manliness and macho-osity that I am, I totally was not moved to anywhere near tears by Boromir’s death in The Fellowship of the Ring.  Wanting to be all hipster (because arrows are just too mainstream) Boromir gets killed with a broom, a banana and almost a live chicken…

In terms of playtime you get plenty of bang for your buck here.  Running through the 18 Lengthy levels as fast as you can will take you over ten hours, and then you’ve only just scratched the surface, with a large amount of side-quests (all given by suspiciously similar-voiced NPCs) and an unfathomably huge amount of collecting to do.  And this is where I find one of my only problems with this game, somewhere at the back of my mind niggling away.  Once you strip away the coat of Lord of the Rings paint that has been applied, it’s essentially the same kind of game we’ve come to expect.  A formula made paint-by-numbers stud-collecting platforming game, with an abundance of charm.  But if it works, why change it?  And this is definitely the definitive game of the series, with the Lord of the Rings and LEGO pairing perhaps being the best yet.  Bravo Feral, bravo.

The Good:

Long, engrossing game.
Great sense of humor.
Open world sections.

The Bad:

Open world is small in places.
Lots of collecting.